Photo by Jeff Helmkamp
Caden Akal, 13, of the Summers-Port Sharks, jumps into the pool during competition against Sunset Hills of Edwardsville on June 18 in Godfrey. Akal was swimming in the boys’ 13-14 200-yard freestyle.
They’re continuing to pool their resources in a splashy way. Those Summers-Port Sharks swimmers want to extend their wave of winning this summer.
It’s 22 Southwestern Illinois Swim Association championships and counting for Summers-Port, which is 2-0 in SWISA action thus far this season. The Sharks have defeated Splash City of Collinsville and Sunset Hills of Edwardsville. They still have to tangle with Water Works of Edwardsville and Paddlers Swim Club of Granite City.
Yet the SWISA Relays on June 29 at Sunset Hills will give a clearer indication of how they can perform July 19 during the SWISA Championships at Paddlers. The Sharks and Paddlers also battle in a head-to-head meeting July 14 in Granite City.
Early returns are encouraging, longtime Summers-Port coach Nancy Miller said. She hopes that will be enduring.
“We have a very strong group of swimmers and we are excited about this year,” she said.
That excitement covers the gamut of competitors, ranging from ages 6-18.
“We have a strong relays group and depth in all areas,” she said.
Patrick Moehn, 13; Lillian Schuler, 7; Edward Roberts, 11; Matthew Daniel, 15; Abigail Powers, 14; and Rachel Paule, 12, all were triple winners in the season-opening SWISA victory over Splash City.
Daniel, a sophomore-to-be at Alton High School, could emerge as one of the top swimmers in Sharks’ history. He qualified for this year’s IHSA finals in the 500-yard freestyle. Thus, it seems his best outings are on the way.
“I’ve been swimming for Summers-Port for eight years and it’s like a family affair,” Daniel said. “Nancy is a great coach and she makes everyone better. I like the atmosphere here and this feels like home to me. This is where I started swimming.”
Cole Akal, 15; Joshua Kreitner, 9; Thomas Wendel, 9; Caden Akal, 13; Stephen Stobbs, 7; Leah Pohlman, 11; Will Roberts, 13; and Ginny Schranck, 16, scored double wins in the Sharks’ opener. They can provide the depth that Miller points to as necessary to maintain the success factor. The Roberts’ are brothers, as are the Akals.
“It’s like we have the best of both in the same swimmers we had last year, plus some brand new swimmers,” she said of the 85 team members. “There’s a good blend.”
Those consecutive league championships, starting in 1993, have added to the Sharks’ lore. There’s a feeling they can continue the string of success.
“We try our hardest and have faith in each other,” said Noah Clancy, 13. “There’s good sportsmanship and we work together. We all have some sort of strategy to swim our best.”
Daniel added, “There’s a lot of motivation to be successful because winning in SWISA is a big source of pride for us.”
Miller chipped in, “It (the 22-year SWISA run) is an outstanding accomplishment. We have been very fortunate and the kids work hard. There’s a lot of loyalty to the team. And usually, it’s the older swimmers serving as our leaders.”
Sunset Hills coach Drew May pointed out that the Sharks have a good thing going. “They are very competitive and have a good tradition,” he said.
Anna Moehn, 11, has been swimming for Summers-Port for six years and she said the Sharks are a tightly knit group. They need to be that way to stay successful.
“Everybody knows each other and it’s like we are one big family,” Moehn said. “My mom, Lisa, used to swim here and my older brother, Patrick, swims on the team now. It’s fun to swim here because it’s like a home pool. I know that I want to keep swimming here for as long as possible.”
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